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Personal profile


I am a Macquarie University Research Fellow in the Department of International Studies. My current research project examines the work of the Australian director Barrie Kosky, especially in relation to his approaches to community. My wider research to date has focused on theatre, opera, the musical, adaptation and community, with a particular interest in the ways that musical and operatic adaptations of Shakespeare and other playwrights for the spoken stage have been used to create and maintain various forms of local, national and international community, both in the past and today. 

My book, Shakespeare as Jukebox Musical, was published with Routledge in September 2018.

I am part of the research cluster "Staging Migration in Berlin: Opera, Theatre, Performance, Film" within Macquarie University's Department of International Studies: Languages and Cultures. In conjunction with this research cluster, I recently organised a joint conference on "Theatre and Internationalisation" and "Barry Kosky: Past, Present, Future" in Sydney.

I received my PhD in English and Theatre Studies from the University of New South Wales. I also hold an MA with Distinction in Shakespeare and Theatre from the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham and separate first-class honours degrees in Theatre Studies and in Opera Studies from Manchester University/ Rose Bruford College. Prior to turning to academia, I had a career as a solicitor, both in-house and in private practice, and hold an LLB(Hons) in Law and French and a postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the University of Edinburgh. 

I contribute lectures, seminars and the occasional tutorial to ENGL309 Shakespeare and the Renaissance (undergraduate), ENGL701 Shakespeare and the Renaissance (Masters), GMN361 Berlin: A Window on German History and Culture, GMN363 Germany: An Intercultural Perspective, and INTS104 Societies of Europe.

Research interests

  • European cultural history
  • Theatre
  • Opera
  • Musical theatre and film
  • Shakespeare
  • Adaptation
  • Community
  • Arts policy

Education/Academic qualification

English and Theatre Studies, PhD, The University of New South Wales

Shakespeare and Theatre, MA(Dist), University of Birmingham

Law and French, LLB(Hons), University of Edinburgh

Legal Practice, Postgraduate Diploma, University of Edinburgh

Theatre Studies, BA(Hons), University of Manchester

Opera Studies, BA(Hons), University of Manchester

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where John Severn is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

William Shakespeare Arts & Humanities
Opera Arts & Humanities
Onstage Arts & Humanities
Criticism Arts & Humanities
Rimini Arts & Humanities
Domesticity Arts & Humanities
Kiss Arts & Humanities
Escapism Arts & Humanities

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2017 2017

Research Outputs 2012 2019

Shakespeare as jukebox musical

Severn, J. R., 2019, London ; New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group. 221 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBookResearchpeer-review

William Shakespeare
Art Form
Popular Song

"Then turn tail to tail and peace be with you": John Fletcher's "The Woman's Prize, or The Tamer Tamed", Menippean satire and same-sex desire

Severn, J. R., 19 Jan 2019, (Accepted/In press) On the edge in early modern English drama. Norrie, A. & Houlahan, M. (eds.). Medieval Institute Press, (Late Tudor and Stuart Drama: Gender, Performance and Material Culture).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

Barrie Kosky's "Saul": a masterpiece of operatic staging

Severn, J., 6 Mar 2017, The Conversation.

Research output: Contribution to Newspaper/Magazine/WebsiteBook/Film/Article reviewResearch

Performing opera: a practical guide for singers and directors

Severn, J. R., Oct 2017, In : Theatre Research International. 42, 3, p. 363-364 2 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article/Exhibition reviewResearch


What is an Artistic Director and why does the Sydney Theatre Company need one?

Severn, J. R., 31 Aug 2016, The Conversation.

Research output: Contribution to Newspaper/Magazine/WebsiteArticleResearch

Activities 2019 2019

  • 2 Invited talk
  • 1 Organising a conference, workshop, ...

Theatre and Internationalisation and Barrie Kosky: Past, Present, Future

John Severn (Participant)
26 Apr 201927 Apr 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventOrganising a conference, workshop, ...

Creating Inclusive Communities through Opera

John Severn (Speaker)
10 Apr 2019

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

Panel discussion on Barrie Kosky and Theatre and Internationalisation

John Severn (Speaker)
26 Apr 2019

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

Press / Media

Selam Opera! Making opera for everyone

John Severn


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Expert Comment